War and peace
When this book first appeared in bookshops about 20 years ago I picked it up, read the blurb, and put it down again. One day perhaps I’ll read it, but not yet, I thought.
Then I bought a book called The Modern Library (see What should I read next? | Khanya) and it recommended [book Captain Corelli’s mandolin] as one of the best books published ion the second half of the 20th century. So when I fund it in the public library, I thought it was time to read it. And having read it, I’m very glad I did.
Do I regret not reading it at the time?
No, because when I first saw it in the shops I had not been to Greece. I had read a similar book about Greece in the Second World War, Eleni by Nicholas Gage, but that was non-fiction, as was about the author’s search for the stories of his forebears in north-western Greece. I took it out of the library again when we were about to visit the area.
I’m sure that Captain Corelli’s mandolin is a very good read whether one has visited Greece or not, but having been there, it helps to understand it better.
It is a story of war and peace, hardship and prosperity, and what war does to people and societies. The characters are memorable, the descriptions of both joys and sorrows are vivid. If you read this book, it will give you some idea of what war-torn societies like Syria are going through right now, and what the refugees are fleeing from, and what it feels like to be betrayed by the great powers fighting proxy wars in your home country.